‘Here, sir, the people govern.’
Alexander Hamilton said these words in 1788, remarking on the U.S. House of Representatives during debate on the adoption of the Constitution. At the time, the United States system of government was unique in a monarchical world. Even today, America’s experiment with democracy makes it impossible to go to Capitol Hill and not feel a sense of awe, of history, of pride in what this country stands for.
This nation is also a land of opportunities, and today there is an unmistakable aura of hope for increased business prospects with the federal government for geosynthetics companies. Talk of infrastructure and aviation is in the humid Washington air.
On April 26 and 27, 2017, representatives of 16 Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) member companies, one representative of the International Geosynthetics Society–North America (IGS–NA), lobbyists from the Washington firm of Whitmer & Worrall, and employees of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) gathered in Washington, D.C., for GMA’s Spring Lobby Day. The lobby day attendees met with legislators and legislative staffers; the meetings offered the chance to emphasize the cost savings, speed of construction, potential for jobs in their districts, and long-lasting reliability of geosynthetics. The reception from the people’s representatives was warm.
Several legislators and staffers were familiar with the industry, due in part to past GMA efforts to keep the geosynthetics industry on the federal government’s radar, as well as due to geosynthetics industry companies and agencies in their districts and states. GMA sought to discuss potential geosynthetics language in an infrastructure package and in the FAA reauthorization bill, which are both on the agenda for debate this year.
The staff of Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., knew the industry well and said Rep. Woodall values the aspects of taxpayer savings and innovation that geosynthetics offer. Similarly, the office of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appreciated the wide use of geosynthetics in the senator’s state. The office of Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who represents the Minnesota district where IFAI is headquartered, was quite interested in the opportunities for infrastructure improvement.
GMA chatted with Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., about the testing of geosynthetics at the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in his district. Representatives of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., discussed with GMA the use of geosynthetics along the Portland riverfront. GMA informed staffers of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., about upcoming GMA meetings with the Mississippi Transportation Commission. Mississippi has become a leader in the use of geosynthetics.
In total, GMA met with 26 legislators or their staffs, including nine senators and 18 members of the House of Representatives.
Easy and comfortable
GMA’s 2017 Spring Lobby Day was about education, advocating, networking, and taking action to promote the use of geosynthetics to members of Congress and their staffers. The industry fits well with both Republican and Democratic desires for infrastructure improvement and the necessary reauthorization legislation for the FAA, and GMA will work to make it easy and comfortable for members of Congress to consider including language promoting geosynthetics use in upcoming legislation.
For more information about GMA, visit www.gmanow.com.
Todd R. Berger is the editor of Geosynthetics magazine.